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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 1982

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Schwartz, Maurice L.

Second Advisor

Threet, Richard L.

Third Advisor

Suczek, Christopher A., 1942-2014


King County has a 182 km, crenulated coastline along the glacially formed channels of Puget Sound. This distance is nearly evenly divided between the mainland and two islands, Vashon and Maury. This field study determined the long-term net shore-drift along the King County coast, primarily using geomorphic and sedimentologic indicators of net shore-drift. The shore-drift sediment is mainly sand and gravel supplied from coastal bluffs by wave erosion, mass wasting, and fluvial processes. There are a total of 46 drift cells, with shore-drift operating along all of the King County coast except for 9 km of artificially modified, commercial and industrial shore at Elliott Bay. The drift cells vary in length from a few hundred meters to about 16 km. The mapping verifies that the pattern of net shore-drift is primarily a function of fetch, and, secondarily, a function of the long-term characteristics of wave-generating surface winds. In the study area, south to southwest winds are both prevailing (most frequent) and predominant (strongest). Because most of the King County coast has a moderate to long fetch in these directions, 65 percent of all net shore-drift has a northward vector component; 35 percent has a southward component. Human modifications of the shore-drift pattern include construction of the small-boat marinas at Shilshole and Des Moines, which have interrupted shore-drift and divided former drift cells. In addition, shore-defense structures along this highly urban coast have locally reduced or eliminated wave erosion as a source of beach and shore- drift sediment supply.




Net shore-drift, Puget Sound



Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Coast changes--Washington (State)--King County; Drift--Washington (State)--King County

Geographic Coverage

King County (Wash.)




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Map Showing Net Shore-Drift, King County Washington - Reduced.pdf (702 kB)
Net Shore-Drift, King County Washington

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